Letters to the Editor

Letter: Healthy skepticism

May 6, 2014


To the editor:

Prof. Krishtalka (Journal-World, May 1) tells us that it is a sad thing that a majority of Americans don’t believe the universe began with a big bang 13.8 billion years ago, in evolution, in climate change and the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Anyone who disbelieves those things, he says, is losing touch with science. He thinks this is willfully choosing ignorance.

Perhaps science (Krishtalka) is losing touch with reality. When did science become the ultimate arbiter of all truth and the “divine” standard of knowledge? Is there a science apart from scientists? Scientists are human and, as such, are subject to fallibility, prejudices, limitations and desires that influence decisions. Science is based on presuppositions that cannot be proven by science (interesting), which means that in many ways science operates upon unproven suppositions. For example, since the supernatural cannot be proven by science it is simply denied.

It is also a problem that human beings have limited ability to gain knowledge, so why do they think they know is truth? There is no time to discuss the presuppositions that man’s rationality is the standard of all things and that man has evolved with accurate belief-producing abilities. Can science answer the basic cry in each human being for meaning, purpose and morality? Perhaps it is more rational to be skeptical about the conclusions of science when it claims to know things that we could not have evolved to know. That is choosing ignorance which is not respect for science or knowledge.


Ken Lassman 4 years ago

OK, I'm game: scientists are the most skeptical of skeptics: their conclusions are not accepted until everyone has a chance to shoot them down, based on empirical criteria acceptable by the scientific community. As such, the age of the earth is based on ratios of radioactive decay in rock strata and the age of the universe is based on the amount of observable red shift in distant galaxies, among other accepted empirical measurements. And yet the scientific community continues to probe these measurements, looking for ever more refined measurements, to corroborate these data with other measuring tools they can develop. The truths of science are never final--an open admission of the fallibility of human observation that you talk about.

I think you are missing the point here: you are mixing up the conclusions of the scientific method, which is a collective process designed to ferret out individual biases, predispositions, etc., with the human desire for truth, which is a deeply individual endeavor and essential for that individual's peace of mind. One can believe in the collective truths of science and also believe in those truths that give meaning to your life.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years ago

Where are the comments that were here earlier??

Leslie Swearingen 4 years ago

"Perhaps it is more rational to be skeptical about the conclusions of science when it claims to know things that we could not have evolved to know."

Science is a method for examining all that is around us, on our planet and in the universe. We live on such a marvelous, diverse planet with such wondrous colors and patterns.

God used the method of evolution, which we still don't know everything about, to create life, but humans are not like insects that are born with all the knowledge they need. Primates who live in groups learn from each other how to live and even how to parent, and when they are raised in zoos without this they have no idea what to do with the baby. They must be taught.

So, too humans have to learn and a very important part of this is science, the study of who and what we are. Scientists are individuals as they should be because it is the discussion they have amongst themselves that lead them to new ideas. One of the most marvelous things about science is the belief in the free and abundant distribution of ideas.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

"For example, since the supernatural cannot be proven by science it is simply denied."

Quite a book could be written on that subject. In fact, many already have been.

Kendall Simmons 4 years ago

Krishtalka was correct when he talked about people not believing in science. Richard Smith is a perfect example.

I mean, Smith, in his letter, literally made the blanket claim that "Science is based on presuppositions that cannot be proven by science (interesting)". Talk about an utter lack of understanding of science.

Does Smith REALLY want to claim that science "cannot prove" the Law of Gravity??? That science "cannot prove" that blood circulates through our bodies...much less how it does so??? That science "cannot prove" that H2O is water??? Good grief.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years ago

The problem here is very simple. If the President of the United States said "the sunrises in the east", there would be haters that would say it comes up in the west.

If the President said that the sky is blue, there would be Republicans that would loudly assert that it is orange.

If the President said that gasoline was expensive, the tea party would say that it was cheap.

If the President said...........you get the message.........................don't you????????

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

My two cents: Richard makes a mistake that science lays any claim to truth. It is merely belief based on the best evidence available. It not that, then what?

Don Brennaman 4 years ago

I'd like to see the proof that man and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Watch "One Million Years B.C." starring Raquel Welch

Garth Atchison 4 years ago

I would like to see "proof" that Jesus Christ ever existed. Or the Ark. Or ANY of the stories in the Bible for that matter. According to the author's logic, humans are incapable of objectivity and anything ever written is tainted by our humanity. Soooooooo, I guess he won't be using the Bible as his reference to prove the existence of a Christian god. And any Christian archeologists that have ever found anything, can't be referenced because they too are also incapable of objectivity. I am just saying that is the logic of a three-year-old.

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